Nicole Moudaber’s debut LP ‘Believe’ provides snapshot in her techno timeline
Nicole Moudaber has worn several different hats in this industry — working as a promoter, label manager, and now label owner for Mood Records — but her clear strength lies in production and DJing. Both because of the reliable quality of her production and rapid pace at which she releases music (more than 5 EPs under her belt in 2012 alone), she’s earned the title in many circles of the unofficial empress of her genre. As a DJ, she leans heavily on many of techno’s customary frameworks while filling clubs and festivals with her spirited personality and straightforward bass lines. As a producer, her work has shown a laser-like focus on a pure breed of techno — you’re not going to find deviations from minimal on Believe. Her mentorship from Carl Cox and close work with labels like Kling Klong and Waveform indicate just how intentional this is.
Crafting a full length album can be many different things to many different artists. Some choose to write a narrative or offer a peak into his or her life, but on Moudaber’s debut LP Believe, she’s compiling musical styles dictated by personal tastes into ten tracks. She uses this LP in the way many would approach a DJ mix –layering a variety of sounds into a fluid techno tapestry. With the freedom of a full album at her disposal, there was room for her to explore a wider range of styles and write music designed for any part of an evening. Although she’s never gone through the creative process of producing an entire LP before, her confidence pervades. When I asked why she decided to compile an album now, the response was an uncomplicated “Why not?” Her experience allowed her to hit the ground running on Believe.
Overall, the album restrains itself well. At times industrial and sparse and at times dream-like or rhythmic, Believe deviates from the kick/snare formula, but never breaks pattern enough to startle the listener. It’s non linear, but not non sensical. “Lumière Tamisée” opens the album in delicate fashion, but Moudaber only really resists rollicking into a four/four pattern for a half minute. “Movin’ On” is shaping up to be the bomb of the album — its sparse atmosphere, sporadic percussion, and progressive layering will be easily interpreted in sweaty warehouses across the globe this summer. It’s the closest thing I can think of as an appropriate reprise for “Roar.” Her collaboration with Adam Beyer on “Take Hold,” premiered back in April by Drumcode, positively reeks of the dignitary’s tastes and delivers a sound that is both supernatural and sweltering.
The vox is the focus of the album’s fourth and seventh track — with Nicole’s own smoky words on “Come & Lay” and a mesmerizing tribal chant swirling amidst delicately placed warps and stabs in “Get On It.” “Fly With You” is probably the standout track on the album; it has a air of sensuality and a hushed build that gives it legs to stand.
Believe is both serious and playful, but its greatest strength is that Moudaber isn’t trying to be anything she’s not. She plays on themes she’s comfortable with and doesn’t stray too far outside her techno worldview, but concocts her tracks in exactly the way she wants. This is music for the dance floor, festival tent, and car but it’s certainly not for sitting. Believe is oftentimes arresting — neither venturing too big or too small — and all times 100% Moudaber.